What is Cataract Surgery?

What is Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations performed and one of the safest and most effective. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with a substitute lens. If cataracts are present in both eyes, they cannot be removed at the same time. Your physician will need to perform surgery on each eye separately.

Two Different Surgery Options

Cataracts are generally removed in one of two ways:

  1. Phacoemulsification (small incision cataract surgery)
  2. Extracapsular surgery

Phacoemulsification (also called small incision cataract surgery)

Phacoemulsification is the most common type of cataract removal procedure. The surgeon makes a small incision on the side of the cornea—the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye—where a tiny probe emits ultrasound waves to soften and break up the cloudy center of the lens. The cataract is then removed by suction through the same incision.

Extracapsular Surgery

During this procedure, a longer incision is made on the side of the cornea to remove the hard center of the lens; the remainder of the lens is then removed by suction.

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Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery

As an alternative to manual incisions, the Moran Eye Center also offers laser-assisted cataract surgery. The Alcon® LenSx® Laser adds computer control to key steps of the procedure. Its unique system analyzes high-resolution OCT images of your eye; helps the surgeon to design a customized procedure; and then, visualizes and performs the procedure on command from the surgeon.

To further enhance accuracy, a patient interface connects your eye to the image-guided surgical unit, so that both the LenSx® Laser computer and the surgeon commanding it have precise, real-time images at all times during the laser procedure.

Intraocular Lenses (IOLs)

Two Types of Lenses: 

  • Single focus lenses - The most common type of lenses used in cataract surgery are monofocal (or single focus) lenses. These can be fitted to provide either near or distance vision—most patients opt for far vision in both eyes. As a result, reading glasses are usually required after surgery, and glasses are sometimes required for vision at far distances as well. This type of lens is covered by Medicare.
  • Multifocal lenses, advanced option - These implants split the light coming into your eye for distance and near vision, and provide the most freedom from glasses. In a few patients, these implants can cause halos (rings around lights at night) which tend to fade four to six weeks after surgery. A corneal procedure correcting astigmatism can be performed at the same time by your doctor. Medicare provides partial coverage for these lenses.*

*Patients with certain eye conditions including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal scar tissue, corneal scars, or who previously underwent radial keratotomy, are ineligible for this type of lens. Your doctor will review your examination findings to determine if you are a good candidate.

Find more information on IOLs.

Astigmatism Correction

Your doctor can use laser reshaping of the cornea or an astigmatism-correcting lens implant to treat your astigmatism at the time of cataract removal. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea (front window) of the eye is shaped more like a football than a sphere. If you have astigmatism of the cornea, leaving it untreated would mean you would need glasses for both distance and near vision after cataract removal.

Learn more about astigmatism correction with toric lenses.

Advanced Option: Accommodating Lens Implants

These implants change position within your eye based on your eye muscle effort. Accommodating lenses can treat astigmatism, but give slightly less near power than multifocal lenses. They are typically used in patients who are ineligible for multifocals due to mild or moderate glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal scar tissue, corneal scars, or prior radial keratotomy. Medicare provides partial coverage for these lenses.

After Cataract

What Is an After-Cataract?

After cataract surgery, your vision can become cloudy due to what is known as an after-cataract. In this condition, the posterior capsule, which holds the lens in place, becomes cloudy and may blur your vision. An after-cataract can develop months or even years after surgery.

Treatment With YAG Laser Procedure

An after-cataract is treated by a technique called YAG laser capsulotomy. Your doctor uses a laser beam to create a tiny hole in the posterior capsule to let light pass through. This is a painless outpatient procedure.

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